child also diminish as the number of children in the family increases, but others, such as the effects on physical and mental health and development, tend to become larger. In those countries, including most of Asia, in which there is a strong preference for sons, the perceived benefits from gaining at least one or two sons will often lead families to risk assuming the costs of several daughters.
Changes in the conditions or way of life that reduce the benefits and increase the costs to the parents of having children, and/or make it easier not to have children, will tend to reduce fertility. Among these variable factors are
1. family income;
2. level of economic, social, and educational development of the society;
3. agricultural versus urban occupation and habitation;
4. possibility and desire for social and economic mobility;
5. availability of arable land and agricultural technology;
6. child labor and compulsory education laws;
7. availability of social security or old-age insurance;
8. employment opportunities for women;
9. status and decision-making ability of women in the society;
10. life expectancy of a newborn child, particulary the probability of survival during infancy and childhood; and
11. availability, effectiveness, and acceptability of means for preventing a birth.
Changes in the first five of these factors are affected by all government policies aimed at economic growth and social development, and are largely determined by the rates of economic growth. But several specific governmental policies and programs which have improvement in welfare as a primary objective will also lower the benefits and increase the costs of having children and are therefore also policies for limiting fertility. These policies are socially beneficial as an integral part of modernization and can be so evaluated quite apart from any effects they may have on fertility. On the other hand, although they are statistically correlated with relatively low or declining fertility, the causal relations are not entirely clear. The quantitative magnitude of the impact on fertility and the time required for this impact are uncertain. Among these multi-objective welfare policies are the following:
Laws prohibiting child labor. The parents lose the benefits of their children's earnings, and their costs are increased because they must support their children rather than letting them pay their own way.
Compulsory education and provision of educational facilities. Children in school have greater material needs; they are less beneficial to their parents because they cannot work when they are in school; and often the parents must pay part or all of the cost of education. Education also has a long-range effect. Educated people, especially educated women, have fewer children